As the Father Sent Me by Rev. Jack Peterson
Reprinted by permission of "The Arlington Catholic Herald"
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John wrote to show that Christ was
the Messiah, the Divine Son of God.
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, "Peace be with you." When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. (Jesus) said to them again. "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained."
Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe."
Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and he said, "Peace be with you." Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe." Thomas answered and said to him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed."
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of (his) disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written that you may (come to) believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.
Pope John Paul II dedicated the Second Sunday of Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday in 2001. This day is very fitting for such a celebration because of the Church's long standing practice of turning to the Gospel involving Jesus' first appearance to the Apostles as a group following the resurrection.
After greeting the 10 (Judas and Thomas were missing) and twice offering the great gift of His peace, Jesus commissions them, "As the Father has sent me, so I send you." Our Lord passed on to the Apostles the authority to oversee the Church's mission, which was an extension of the mission that He Himself had received from the Father.
Next, Our risen Lord breathed on them, and said to them: "Receive the Holy spirit. whose sins you forgive are forgiven them and whose sins you retain are retained." The first time that God breathed His Spirit into man was at creation when He gave life to Adam. The second time was this night when God gave new life to the world and to the Church by bestowing upon the Apostles the authority and power to offer God's forgiveness.
Jesus, the eternal Word present at the creation of the world, came down to earth to re-create it through the gift of His mercy and the reconciliation with God Our Father that flows from His mercy. The Church, in a unique way through her ministerial priesthood, shares in this great work of healing and reconciling the world.
Special devotion to Our Lord under the title of Divine Mercy was inaugurated by St. Faustina Kowalska, a Polish nun to whom the Lord appeared in a series of private revelations. She was inspired by Christ to help the Church proclaim ever more loudly and clearly the message of God's mercy which flows from His wounded side. Every human being is invited to find comfort and seek refuge in the heart of Christ, pierced for our offenses.
St. Faustina's message is very encouraging. She reminds the world that the greater the sinner, the greater the right he has to Christ's mercy. Souls that appeal to Christ's mercy bring delight to the Lord. To such souls, Christ grants even more graces than they ask.
This humble unpretentious, 19th-century nun issued a challenge to the world: Trust in Jesus who has opened His heart as a living fountain of mercy. Every soul should draw life from His heart and approach the sea of mercy with great trust.
Along with this amazing gift come two great challenges. First, we need to be willing to admit that we are sinners in need of God's mercy. This first step is not easy to take in our world today, which tries very hard to convince us that there are no universal truths and therefore no real sins to be sorry for or confess.
Second, Our Lord issues an appeal through this great saint to extend God's mercy to others. If we want God to forgive our sins, we must be willing to forgive (or at least strive to forgive) those who sin against us. Our willingness to extend God's mercy by forgiving others is critical to God's judgment upon us on the last day.
According to St. Faustina, the Lord encouraged her to spread three aspects of this devotion: the image of Divine Mercy, the Feast of Divine Mercy and the Chaplet of Mercy.
Pope John Paul II, by promulgating this feast on the Second Sunday of Easter, has invited the Church to never tire in its proclamation of the Good News of God's mercy and of Jesus' desire to re-create the world through the Spirit's gift of healing and reconciliation, mediated in a beautiful way through the Church and the sacrament of penance.
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